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Amy Ascherl, physical education teacher at Robert Blue Middle School in Eagle Grove, is the 2020 recipient of the Brass Bluegill award from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fish Iowa! program.
Ascherl has taught a fishing unit to her 7th and 8th graders each fall for the past seven years. This past year she added her 5th and 6th graders. All four grades learn how to properly prepare for a fishing trip (clothes, gear, etc.), set up their own fishing pole, tie knots, cast and reel in a fish, and handle fish.
“I teach my students how to fish because I personally love the outdoors,” Ascherl explained. “I want to expose them to as many different outdoor activities as possible that they can continue to enjoy well into adulthood.”
At the end of the fishing unit, 5th and 6th graders go fishing at a local pond in Eagle Grove. The 7th and 8th graders also learn the skills of canoeing and kayaking. They spend a morning or afternoon canoeing, kayaking, and fishing at nearby Oakdale Pond. “It's always one of the highlights of the year for my students,” boasts Ascherl.
“I learn something new with each group of students,” said Ascherl. “I constantly adjust my Fish Iowa! program to make it the best it can be.”
Ascherl teaches a variety of outdoor skills in her physical education classes including the NASP Archery Program, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. “I hope to include Hunter Safety Education this fall as an extension activity during our intervention time,” added Ascherl.
Ascherl was presented with her award on Aug. 13 at the Natural Resource Commission meeting.
The Brass Bluegill award has been presented each year since 1996 to an instructor who has established an outstanding local program that exemplifies the goals of Fish Iowa!